CNB decides not to cut interest rates

The Czech National Bank (CNB) decided to keep interest rates at two percent on Thursday. The decision surprised economic analysts, who had forecast a cut in rates due to the strengthening Czech crown. The rate was last changed in October, when the CNB raised it by a quarter of a percentage point.

Under a new law signed by Czech President Vaclav Klaus this week, the CNB will become the only institution, as of April 1, responsible for supervising the Czech financial market.

Czech Telecom to offer internet television service

The country's dominant fixed-line operator, Cesky Telecom, is finalising a project offering an Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) service for the Czech Republic, the Czech Business Weekly reported this week. Eight television and five radio stations are signed up for the service, which is to be launched in late June. Some 200 Cesky Telecom employees took part in a limited test on Monday. Once commercially available, the IPTV service will offer major news channels as well as a variety of undisclosed entertainment stations. The service will run across Cesky Telecom's fixed-line infrastructure, which can deliver the necessary broadband access to about 90 percent of its subscriber base.

RWE and E.ON to boost competition with series of asset swaps in Central Europe

Germany's two dominant electricity and gas groups, RWE and E.ON entered a deal this week to swap stakes in some natural gas distributors in Hungary and the Czech Republic. The move aims at simplifying ownership structures and boosting competition in the two countries. The asset swaps are to be completed within the first half of this year but have yet to be approved by the Czech and European Union antitrust authorities.

Environment Ministry controls volume of phosphates in washing powder with new decree

With phosphates responsible for over twelve percent of the pollution of Czech waterways, the Environment Ministry has issued a decree that limits the chemical's presence in washing powder. As of July, the production of washing powder in which phosphates make up over 0.5 percent of the weight will be prohibited, and sales will be banned from October 1. Environment Minister Libor Ambrozek points out that other European countries like Austria, France, Germany, and Italy, have imposed a similar ban.

Skoda Praha to build plant in Vietnam

One of the country's leading companies on the energy market, Skoda Praha, plans to build a new 1,000 megawatt thermal power plant in Vietnam. The station, worth an estimated 12 billion crowns (around half a billion US dollars) is set to go into operation in 2010. A letter of intent has already been signed but a contract on construction will not be signed until the end of the year.

Bang & Olufsen launches production at new plant in northern Moravia

Audio and visual equipment producer Bang & Olufsen has launched production at its new plant in the northern Moravian town of Koprivnice. The company's only plant outside Denmark employs 120 people, who assemble wireless telephones, remote controls, and DVD and hard-disk recorders. Plans are underway to expand the plant further to work on a bigger selection of the company's high-end technical equipment and include a centre for worldwide distribution of spare parts as well as one for research and development.